Fashion Designers: Marc Jacobs and Hedi Slimane

Category: Research

Introduction

The fashion industry is one of the drivers of the modern global economy. The fashion designers are also becoming increasingly influential in the world with the clothes and accessories they design, thus shaping eras and generations. This essay explores two fashion designers, detailing their backgrounds, their target audience, and their most impactful works. It also explores the methods which they use to promote their merchandise and the causes of their influence in the contemporary fashion industry. This essay will consider Marc Jacobs, an American fashion designer, and Hedi Slimane, a fashion designer from France.

Backgrounds of the Designers

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs is an American fashion designer. He was born in 1963 in New York City. Just like most renowned fashion designers, he discovered his passion for fashion and design at an early age. He started gaining interest in fashion when he was six years old. At the age of 15, Marc Jacobs enrolled in the High School of Art and Design. He would attend the school during the day and at night he undertook an internship at a local boutique store. Later on, he enrolled in the prestigious Parsons School of Design to horn his designing skills. During this time at the school, he designed and sold his first line of clothing in 1986. It was constituted of hand-knitted sweaters. In the same year, he founded the now famous Marc Jacobs label. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Marc Jacobs worked for Perry Ellis. While working here that he has made his biggest and most significant contribution in the fashion industry. This contribution was the  creation of the grunge collection that characterized the fashion industry throughout the 1990s. 

Later Marc Jacobs joined Louis Vuitton as a creative director in 1997 and vacated the post in 2013 to focus on his own line of products. He has expanded his line, and currently it grosses an average of US$ 950 million in revenue. Marc Jacobs’s store chain counts more than 285 stores located throughout the globe in more than 60 countries.

Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane is a French fashion designer and also a very skilled photographer. He was born in 1968 in Paris. Just like Marc Jacobs, Hedi Slimane has also gained an interest in fashion at a pretty early stage of his life, when he was seven years old. At the age of 16, he started designing some clothes. However, he reckoned he had to widen his knowledge of photography, fashion, and design. For this reason, he enlisted in the Ecole du Louvre, an art and fashion school. He also undertook several apprenticeship programs at various designer houses for men clothes. In the course of time, he gradually shifted his focus to men’s clothes. In 1996, he was employed by Yves Saint Laurent to oversee the ready-to-wear section of the menswear products. He resigned from the position in late 2000 and took a job at Christian Dior as a creative director of their section of menswear, known as Dior Homme.

Just like working at Yves Saint Laurent, he relinquished his position after running down his contract in 2007 in order to focus on photography. He also wanted to focus on his personal line of clothing that Christian Dior had declined to support. In 2012, he returned to Saint Laurent and is still the creative director to date, increasing its profits by more than 27%.

Market Segments

Marc Jacobs and Hedi Slimane target different audiences with their product lines. In terms of income, Marc Jacobs targets the upper-class customers, while Hedi Slimane targets the customers from middle-income and the young people. Marc Jacobs designs high-end, luxurious products that only the wealthy audience can afford. The products include fragrance products, shoes, bags, jewelry, watches and other accessories. In 2007, he introduced a secondary line known as “Marc by Marc Jacobs” which targeted the middle-income people. However, the line was discontinued in March 2015. In terms of occupation, both designers target the people who have an informal occupation. With regard to cultural background, both Marc Jacobs and Hedi Slimane target the audience influenced by the popular culture. Most of their designs are modeled after the trends of the popular culture or are an interpretation of it. While they both target culture-driven audiences, Hedi Slimane focuses primarily on the youth. On the other hand, Marc Jacobs serves a wider target audience in terms of age, from children clothing to those of the elderly. Additionally, while Hedi Slimane tends to focus his efforts only on menswear, Marc Jacobs targets both the men and women. In fact, it may seem that he especially targets the women audience.

Looks Known For

The two designers gained international fame during different eras, with a decade separating their popularity. As a result, they are known for quite different contributions to the fashion industry. For instance, Marc Jacobs is known for the grunge collection that he designed while working for Perry Ellis back in 1991. The grunge look became so popular in the 1990s that it instantly catapulted Marc Jacobs into the fashion industry’s hall of fame. 

The grunge collection was influenced by the prevailing popularity of the grunge music at the time. It involved the unorthodox combination of different sets of women fashion clothes. Jacobs did not limit himself his designs to any single type of fabric, and he still does not. He utilizes cotton, silk, leather, satin and nylon among others. It is important to point out that the disheveled look was characterized and accessorized by boots. However, in the course of time, Marc Jacobs has increasingly shifted his focus onto other fields, including fragrance, shoes, and bags.

On the other hand, Hedi Silmane became famous in the early 2000s while working for Dior Homme. Slimane became popular when he popularized the skinny menswear silhouette. Slimane utilizes polyester and jeans as his primary fabrics. However, from time to time he also experiments with other fabrics including nylon and leather. The bottom-line of this product line is that they should be influenced by both music and youth subcultures.

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Production, Promotion and Selling of Merchandise

Marc Jacobs produces his merchandise all over the world. The design work is primarily done in the New York and Paris offices. However, once the designs have been created, the actual production is in most cases outsourced to China and Japan. Just like the majority of other fashion designers, the primary avenue through which Jacobs promotes his merchandise is via a showroom exposition and advertisements in the social and mainstream media. Even though Jacobs spends a vast amount of time in Paris, his most frequented showroom is in New York. The showroom also happens to belong to Marc Jacobs. The Marc Jacobs International showroom in SoHo, is located at the 72nd Spring St. in New York. As for selling the merchandise, Marc Jacobs has a chain of nearly 300 retail stores located all over the globe that sell Marc Jacobs’ products. However, the products can also be stocked at any other major retailers.

Similarly to Marc Jacobs, Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent produces most of its merchandise in the Far East due to the economies of scale and availability of relatively cheap labor. Slimane also promotes his merchandise through showroom exhibits and adverts. Even though Hedi Slimane resides in Los Angeles, he frequents Saint Laurent’s flagship showroom located in Paris along the Avenue Montaigne. The merchandise is displayed and sold in the showrooms and retail stores in cities such as New York, Madrid, and Munich. The merchandise is also sold by other retailers who may wish to stock Saint Laurent’s productions.

Importance of the Designers

Marc Jacobs and Hedi Slimane are among the elite leading lights in the contemporary fashion industry. Both have designed products that have impacted a generation and revolutionized how people think about and consume fashion. Jacobs is considered an important designer because he created one of the most unorthodox combinations of women clothes. His sartorial interpretation of the prevailing culture in the 1990s enabled him to design a masterpiece that defied the fashion industry at the time. His inclination towards sex and domination theme is epic, and his market can only increase because the associated needs are insatiable, and so is the appeal to satisfy them. To date, I find his work to be revolutionary even though its impact has slightly reduced as he increasingly switched focus to his niche, the upper-class consumers. However, the mere fact that he has grown his company into a multi-million venture is a remarkable achievement. The achievement places him as one of the major influencers of the fashion industry. 

As for Slimane, his skinny menswear is still quite fashionable to date. Slimane’s designs impress the youth and are thus culture-driven. These are the most crucial components of a fashion market. Furthermore, Slimane has a unique way of aesthetically influencing his designs with music, in the process revitalizing even the outdated fashion sense. Due to this foundational progress and innovations exhibited by the two designers, with time, Marc Jacobs and Hedi Slimane will only increase their influence and popularity.

Similarities and Differences

The two fashion designers exhibit several similarities and differences in their character, drive and style of operations. As for similarities, they both showed an early interest in fashion. They both purposed to become designers and even attended specialized schools to improve their designing skills. They also have a common sense of design. They both have their designs influenced by the popular culture and music. For instance, one of Marc Jacobs’s most popular designs was influenced by grunge music, and Slimane has his designs influenced by the pop music and popular culture as well.

The two also have differences. The most glaring one is their audience. While Marc Jacobs targets the rich with his high-end luxurious line of products, Hedi Slimane targets the middle class. Additionally, Slimane targets the youth whereas Jacobs designs for a wider range of people, including children. Slimane mostly targets men whereas Jacobs mainly targets the ladies. The two also differ in terms of their skills. While both have a sense of fashion and frequently dress celebrities, Hedi Slimane has additional photography skills that Marc Jacobs does not possess.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident that Marc Jacobs and Hedi Slimane have the leading positions of in the fashion world. Even though they took different roots in their growth and development, they both managed to make a substantial impact on their designs that defined the different eras. Even though they emerged at different times and live and work in different countries, they have both tapped into the popular culture in order to popularize their designs and increase their profitability. Contemporary designers should base their designs on the popular culture in order to effectively explore the potential of their existing and prospective target audience.

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